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Active Meditation

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche




During the Medieval Period the clergy would go for walks to commune with the Holy Spirit or walk along mazes to cleanse their thoughts of everything except God. Runners, often have moments of complete mental silence while they run. In Yoga asanas are more than postures to keep us toned and strong, asanas are also a form of active meditation. While we move we are able to focus on just the act of moving and breathing to give ourselves a sense of calm and clarity.


We are taught in yoga that meditation is separate from asana practice. That in order to meditate we need to sit quietly and focus on our breathing, to clear our mind while we sit still. However, the act of an asana practice is meant to be just as mentally enriching. We need to focus on our movement and our breath in order to receive the full benefits of the practice, therefore, our thoughts should not be venturing on more distracting topics. This is also a form of meditation. We are giving our mind a time to relax and reboot from our everyday stresses.


Anything we do actively can be considered a form of meditation, if we are focussing on one thing and clearing our mind for peace. Maybe someone is able to calm their mind by cleaning or washing dishes. If they are able to find peace in everyday tasks then they should be able to train themselves to meditate during more physical activities, such as running or hiking.


Emerson said "nature always wears the colors of the spirit," if we consider walking, out in nature, as another form of active meditation, there is a deeper meaning to Emerson's words. We are a small mirror of the expansive universe around us. We are all connected to the ground we walk on. The peace we experience when in nature is something we can always find within ourselves. As the Medieval clergy did centuries before, we can walk in nature as a means to commune with our spirit and the divine that surrounds us.


In Western culture we have a difficult time allowing ourselves to check out of our busy lives. Our society wants us to keep moving at a break-neck speed to work and produce. However, because of this many people suffer from depression, mental breakdowns, and burnouts. If we take time for ourselves, even thirty minutes everyday, to clear the mind of all our stressful thoughts then we can lead a more peaceful existence.


Practicing Yoga or going for a hike can be the best solution for working on meditation because both activities give your brain something else to focus on rather than work or home. When we give ourselves a mental break we often see things in a different light. The benefits of physical activity span larger than the bodily changes to the mental impacts. When we are physically active we need to maintain our focus on the exercise blanking our minds from everything else.


Once we master the ability to focus on one thing and allow calm to settle over us, then we can take the next step in meditation, by completely emptying our mind to seek the Truth of ourselves, the universe, accept what is, and welcome blissful consciousness.


“We talk of communing with Nature, but ’tis with ourselves we commune…Nature furnishes the conditions – the solitude – and the soul furnishes the entertainment.” – John Burroughs

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